Officials reckon with what to do with property on Recovery Road

May 13, 2021

To renovate or not to renovate — that is the question. After receiving no responses to a request for proposals, members of the Wareham Redevelopment authority are wrestling with what to do with the town-owned building at 4 Recovery Rd. The building was previously home to the Christopher Donovan Day School for seven years before the Day School moved to its current home in the Ethel E. Hammond School in Onset.

During the Wareham Redevelopment Authority’s May 13 meeting, Director of Planning Ken Buckland reported that the town “did not receive any responses” when it asked for new proposals for the property.

Just a few months ago, officials thought the building would soon become a site for cannabis testing. But, ultimately, the company that hoped to conduct cannabis testing at 4 Recovery Rd. asked to terminate its lease

This put the town back at square one, and officials issued a request for proposals.

“A marijuana lab and local insurance company had registered interest in the lease of the space,” Buckland said. “But apparently their thought was the investment they were going to make in the property — they wanted to buy it instead.” 

Buckland said that hesitancy to invest in a leased property seems to have scared away other potential tenants.

One option to combat that problem, according to Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, is to use federal coronavirus relief funds to do some repairs and renovations to the inside of the building.

“I’m starting to think, in order to make this worthwhile, we should try and get a daycare or something in there,” Sullivan said. He said the town would have to approve the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to “fix the place up,” but he thought they could “get a daycare in there — one that helps families and stuff like that.”

Then, “in a few years,” he said the town could sell the building.

Buckland said he had called around to daycare facilities to gauge interest and said he “hasn’t received any response yet.”

Redevelopment Authority members weren’t immediately sold on the idea of further investment into the building.

“I’m very reluctant to invest any more money into this building,” said board member Richard Swenson. “We tried that once, and it just didn’t work for us.”

Sullivan said the town had renovated the building’s exterior, meaning the interior “is the main issue now.”

The town used roughly $250,000 in state Community Development Block Grant money to conduct previous renovations of the property, and the town might be required to pay those funds back if the property is sold outright or if the building isn’t put to use in roughly the next year and a half. Because of that, there is a time pressure for determining the property’s future, Buckland explained.

Swenson agreed that the building “is not move-in ready,” but still wasn’t sold on the idea of completing interior renovations.

The board did not make any final decisions about next steps for the building at 4 Recovery Rd., but members said they would explore opportunities for funding renovations.